HE was the floppy haired teenage heart-throb who became an overnight sensation when he released his debut single The One and Only back in 1991.

A smash hit in the UK, Australia and the USA, it was the one-hit-wonder that led to Chesney Hawkes' face adorning virtually every teen magazine and bedroom wall in the land as he relished finding himself a pop star at the age of 19.

As 45-year-old Chesney looked forward to performing at Let's Rock Southampton on Saturday he called me from his home in Los Angeles and spoke candidly about those days of fame, fortune and the fickle hand of showbusiness....

Does he enjoy doing nostalgia shows like Let's Rock?

"Yes, but it’s funny. I’m more 90’s but I’ve got lumped with all the 80’s songs and retro shows. It’s fun because I get to hang out with people like Nik Kershaw( who wrote The One and Only) and Howard Jones. And it’s something to witness all those people reliving their youth . I really grew up in the 80’s and my favourite artists were the Beatles and Prince and I was a kid when Howard Jones and Elvis Costello were having hits.”

Ironically, 'The One and Only' proved self-prophesy so has Chesney's one and only hit been kind to him?

"In general I can say we've been the best of friends. Over the years we've had a little falling out but now it is so much fun to play. I feel the energy lift when I pay it. It's given me a different side to my career doing nostalgia gigs like Let's Rock. I'm proud of the recording. It still stands up."

Was it a case of too much, too young?

"If I go back to how I was feeling, I was only 19 and it started to look like it would be a big hit. I remember my manager Bill Curbishley said to me ‘I really hope The One And Only isn’t a number one’. I thought that's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard in my life. Why do all of this if you don't want to be number one!

I still stand by that. I wouldn't change anything that happened with that record. It was a song with wings. But in some ways he was right because when you put something out with that connection, something that big, it's always difficult to follow.

"We never had anything else in our arsenal. If you look where the record came from - the film Buddy's Song, and the story of a young boy called Buddy, it was a a very specific record for that and we weren't aiming for the hit parade and we didn't have anything else like that. I didn't think about it at the time. I was just a 19-year-old doing my thing. I didn't think that deeply about anything- that was only later."

When the money came rolling in Chesney admits it went to his young head:

"I made and lost a lot of money and it all happened in that short space of time. When you are young and silly you buy everyone a car and spend money on treating everyone. I lived the life and didn't think about saving for the future and thought there would always be money. I made it and spent it in a grand fashion."

Chesney's first extravagant purchase was his own recording studio.

" I'd always wanted one so I built a full 24-track studio at the back of my parents’ house which, in those days, cost a fortune. The equipment cost thousands of pounds – crazy money. I spent at least £100,000 on that studio and when my parents sold the house I had to give the equipment away as it was all obsolete."

Was it always his ambition to be a pop star?

"It just landed on me. I always wanted to be a musician. I sang and played in pubs before I made it. I was like Piano Man in the corner of the pub five or six nights a week playing Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel. My trajectory was I would be a song writer, singer and creator of music. When 'The One and Only' came out I was marketed as the pretty boy pop star and even though I fitted the mould it wasn't what I had planned. I went along with the flow of it. I was so young and happy to be in the music industry. I mistook that success for the right kind of success. I wasn't paying attention to the way it was marketed. I'd visit seven different countries in one day - all European stuff. They worked you to death and I remember fainting one day. I look at artists now who cancel tours due to "exhaustion" and I get it.

I was flying to most places or I'd be hopping on tour buses and cars. As it got more crazy I mostly travelled by plane or helicopter. I had about three years of being in the eye of the storm but then it was suddenly all over and suddenly not there any more."

Did it feel like a roller coaster you couldn't get off?

"There were times like that but you are so caught up with it and have no time to think. You can't see the wood for the trees - you are stuck in the wood. I wish I could have had that clarity and birds eye view I have now but you trust everyone around you to be guiding your career."

Both of Chesney's parents come from that background. His dad is Len 'Chip' Hawkes from The Tremeloes and his mum, Carol Dilworth, was a TV hostess on The Golden Shot. Did they not advise Chesney on the pitfalls of showbusiness?

"They were swept up in it as much as I was. My dad co-managed me at the time. He was in it with me. He came on the tour bus. It was difficult being family.

"If I’d known how quickly things can change I would never have spent the money I did. I spent a quarter of a million on shooting a music video to go with one song.”

Chesney was still only 22 when the superstardom dream abruptly ended but he is extremely happy with life now, married to Kristina, an American former model.

"My priorities in life now are my family and I dip in and out of it by doing these nostalgia festivals. I'm a hands-on dad at home. In fact I just got back from the school run!I'm a glorified chauffeur!"

Chesney has three children. His oldest son, Casey, is 15. He has a 13 year old daughter called Jesse and his youngest son, Indiana, is 11.

How would he feel about them going into the music business?

"I'm trying to dissuade them but there is no escaping it is in their blood!They are all into the performing arts. My older son Casey is at the Los Angels County High School of Performing Arts doing a musical theatre course , but who knows? He's still young."

Chesney today has a good work/play balance.

"I have a studio. I write and produce and I develop young artists. I've done it for 15 or so years, and I write for film and TV. I do a lot of acoustic shows for myself. I do a lot of gigs here and in the UK; I commute between LA and the UK - my carbon footprint isn't good! I'm always doing some new album for myself. I enjoy doing the small intimate gigs in smaller theatres for between 200 and 600 people and do a lot of Q and A stuff. I've just done a tour with my dad who is 72, both sharing stories about our careers. We perform Tremeloes songs and my songs. It's really successful and has sold out everywhere. People are really interested ; we are the only English father and son who have had number one's!"

Let's Rock is on Southampton Common on Saturday.




For further details and to book tickets, visit